Varanasi Travel Blog› entry 22 of 33 › view all entries
December 29th, 2009 – by: andycox_is_now_in
Having agreed with the Germans to share a cab to a hostal they had been recommended, we devised our plan of action to avoid the infamous taxi touts that claim a fee from prospective hotels only for the extra charge to be passed on to the tourist.
Vishnu Rest House immediately welcoming.
With tours booked with the hostal for later, I had a free day to discover Varanasi. The hotel lacky took me down to where the ghats on the banks of the famous River Ganges and pointed me in a good direction to have a wander. Varanasi is the holiest of Hindu cities and where Hindus travel to die in the hope they will receive enlightenment. On the flip side, the Ganges is 3000 times over the acceptable toxicity levels in Europe ! I walked along a succession of ghats with steps leading down in to the water with dozens of Hindus fully submersing themselves in the "purities" of the holy river.
Picked a point in the map (Ramnagar Fort) and went for a further adventure. Wandered through a warren of dusty, dirty backstreets. The only street cleaning going on is elderly women picking up cow and buffalo crap and loading it in to baskets. Subsequently saw that they then split it in to pancakes and leave in the sun to dry. Kids up to the age of 7 walking around naked.
Eventually found my way to the pontoon bridge to cross the river to the fort.
Wandered back to hostal seeing a few of the famous Hindu temples, but mome accessible to non Hindus. Instead got back to the hostal in time for my 1st boat trip on to the Ganges.
Every day there is a Hindu celebration on the banks of the Ganges. We took a boat down to watch from the river as two main stages on two of the most historic ghats danced and played drums. With 200 boats jostling for position, happy to be in one of the bigger rowing boats as a few of the motor boats care free in barging through the crowd. Impressive display even without fully understanding the meaning of the ritual.
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